Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Omnipotent, Omniscient, Loving & Good - Pt. 1

I 've made it to Houston, TX; my move actually occurred on Sunday the 26th of July so I've been here several weeks now. Unpacking has been slow and interspersed with a marathon of medical tests and visits to doctors as I set up a cadre of professionals to replace those I left in NYC. Thus far, I am rather impressed. The doctors here are thorough and work together. Even the hospitals all seem to be together. I've seen branches of certain hospitals in other locations but the main facilities are right next door to each other in a two-three mile strip. My doctors are all super specialists! The fellows, who are MDs but have chosen (and been chosen) to train under my doctors, are at the level of most of the doctors I saw in NYC. The fellows see me first and give me the same answers I received in NYC then the specialists come in and show the fellows how to do their jobs better -- that there are other treatment alternatives, or tests (often simple tests) that might give important information, even that the test results before their eyes are providing information that has been overlooked or underestimated. It's an education and also hard work just being a patient. I realize more and more that my job is to be ill and if I refuse to do it, I won't get better.

What I mean by that is if I don't take this seriously, I won't do what is necessary to get healthier. I won't get the rest I need or the exercise. I won't take my meds on time or eat properly or do the 101 odd things I ought to do; this will only matter to me if I accept the reality of being ill. For example, I've been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea (I stop breathing about seven times each hour) and must use a retainer-like device to keep my airway open while I sleep. It's not as intrusive as the machine many use, it's not surgery, but it is easy to forget to put the device in my mouth - which is a no no - breathing is extremely, fundamentally even, important. So I'll have to work it into my already crowded bedtime prep. But since the alternative is, at least, being sicker and, at worst, death, making certain I insert my breathing retainer is effort well spent.

This morning, I read in Vol. 3 Charity of Luigi Giussani's Is It Possible to Live This Way?:

"If ...the circumstances of life ...make us ...participants in the death of Christ, then sacrifice becomes the keystone of all life -- life's value is in the sacrifice that one lives -- but also the keystone for understanding the history of man. The entire history of man depends on that man dead on the cross, and I can influence the history of man ...if I accept the sacrifice that this moment imposes."

I was originally drawn to Giussani's work because he was the first real intellectual I encountered who got it, who understood that Christ, and Him crucified, must be the foundation of our lives if who we are and what we do is to be reality. This past summer, I became acquainted with a man who asked me for a rational argument for my belief that God is loving and good particularly with all the suffering and pain in the world. After a lengthy correspondence, I told him I was not only ill but in the midst of moving cross country and that I could not continue our conversations until I had settled into my new home. Since arriving in Houston, I've encountered others, some Catholics, who are struggling with God's goodness, who are ratcheting up emphasis on God's love and mercy and downplaying God's power: Omnipotence could not see children suffering and not interfere.

Though I've got some work left to get settled, beginning with this post, I plan to respond to my acquaintance as well as to those others who are struggling with God's loving and good omniscience and omnipotence. It has to begin with reality, like the reality of my illness. This illness is real. That I stop breathing seven times per hour is real. All those I've encountered accept that God is real. They do not accept that God is good. Is that possible? Can God be real and yet not be good? Before my next post (which hopefully will be sooner than the time since my previous one) I'm interested in your responses.